Nathan Douglas

Hispanic Studies & Education

Illinois Wesleyan University
Studied Abroad at BIC (now SIS)
Nathan is from Illinois Wesleyan University, and studied abroad at Barcelona International College (BIC) during the Spring of 2013.

What are you up to these days? Have you graduated? Are you working? How did your experience in Barcelona have an impact on your life?

I have been working towards my PhD in Spanish Literature at Indiana University – Bloomington with full financial support!

If you were to sum up your Barcelona experience in one to two words, what would you say? My Barcelona Experience is…

Life Changing

Explain why you chose those words.

Before studying abroad, I wanted to be a high school Spanish teacher. When I arrived in Barcelona, I realized that the investigation and work that I really wanted to do in Spanish was much more profound than work that could feasibly take place in a high school classroom. While I obviously still look forward to teaching, my experience in Barcelona really showed me how possible and exciting a career in the humanities could be.

What was your favorite place to eat in Barcelona? Favorite food?

TOO MANY!!! I was a regular at Café Diamante around the corner from BIC, and I spent many an afternoon at Pizza del Born snacking after a long walk. Really, I didn’t really go wrong with any of my food choices. My favorite food I ate the whole time, though, would probably be all of the amazing tapas that I had at El Xampanyet in the Born.

What was your favorite tour, day trip, or cultural activity? Why?

With BIC, my favorite activity was part of my Contemporary Spain course. Our class of four students walked over to Òmnium Cultural and meet Muriel Casals, a central figure in the Catalan independence movement. I had become very interested in the movement by this point, so the opportunity to meet Muriel Casals was really a moment of simultaneous honor and awe. Outside of BIC: my first Barça game!! The environment in Camp Nou is truly amazing and evades description.

Is there a site in Barcelona that you would recommend to future students that may be a little more “off the beaten path”?

So many, but some favorites are:

Parc Central de Nou Barris

Parc del Laberint d’Horta

Parc central de Poblenou 

Parc del Clot 

Parc de Collserola (days of hiking within minutes of the center!)

If you had one perfect day in Barcelona where would you go, and what would you do?

I would hike up to the Bunkers del Carmel to watch the sunrise (I did this once – absolutely amazing), then have café con leche #1 of the day in a bar. After that, I’d visit one or two of the museums in the city – most likely the MACBA and the Museu d’Història de Catalunya – before inhaling lunch at Maka Maka and then heading to Platja del Bogatell for the afternoon. After developing a mild sunburn, I would walk across Parc de la Ciutadella to the Born. While there, I’d take a little time to have a snack at Pizza del Born. After spending a few hours wandering either in the Born or Gràcia, I’d settle in for an evening of tapas with friends in a few different bars. After approximately 100 croquetas de bacalao, we would go out for a night of dancing!

What was something you were surprised to learn about Barcelona or Spain? Or what aspect of the country or city were you least expecting?

How clean everything was – seriously. I very quickly noticed Spain’s national obsession with mopping floors (possibly the second religion after fútbol). In all seriousness, though, I was impressed with the cleanliness of the city in general. In the US, I’m accustomed to seeing trash in the streets and having to pick it up. In Barcelona, this was hardly the case. Also, I found out I love public transport (Visca el tram!).

What is one piece of advice that you have for future students coming to Barcelona?

Don’t close yourself off – be willing to try anything and let go of your inhibitions with learning new languages and cultures. That, and don’t take your eyes off your stuff on the metro during peak time… or ever.